The North Shore Baseball League wrapped its regular season this past weekend and now it’s time to dive into the playoffs. Eight teams qualified for the postseason, which begins Tuesday.
The Peabody Champions earned the No. 1 seed after finishing the regular season at 17-5-1. Peabody battled the North Shore Phillies for first place in the league through the majority of the regular season.
At the plate the Champions are led by Chad Martin. In 21 games, Martin compiled a .432 batting average, nine home runs and 34 RBI. Mark Shorey (.328 batting average, four home runs, 15 RBI), Derek Lyons (.316, 11 RBI) and David Ruggiero (.283, 12 RBI) have also contributed offensively.
“Those four are the first four in our order,” Peabody co-manager Steve Gridley said. “Mark played Triple-A baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s as consistent a hitter as I’ve seen in the league.
“Zach Keenan and BJ Weed have done good things for us too,” Gridley added. “As good a year as Chad’s having, we have to have good players behind him too. Zach’s having a great season. John Cahill’s doing it both ways for us at third base. There’s not a better defensive third baseman in the league.”
On the mound Tyler Leavitt leads the team in wins (six) and innings pitched (40), with an impressive 1.93 ERA. Mike Gallo is 3-0 with a 0.88 ERA in 24 innings pitched and Scott Weissman has tossed 10 2/3 scoreless innings.
“We’ve been very consistent with our starting pitching,” Gridley said. “Tyler has gone every week. Mike has started a bunch of games and closed out four. Peter O’Connell is a new player for us and his ERA is 0.82. Having a guy like Scott who pitched at Clemson in the back of our bullpen, that’s nice to have. It’s fun closing out games with him.”
Peabody starts its best-of-three first round playoff series against No. 8 Manchester Tuesday (7:45) at Twi Field.
The Phillies earned the No. 2 seed after a 16-7 regular season. Kurtis White led them at the plate with a .483 average. White also hit four home runs with 18 RBI. Kyle Devin (.377 average, three home runs, 19 RBI) and Mike Griffin (.328, three, 13) also made key contributions.
“Kurtis White, I’m pretty sure he led the league in hitting this year,” Carroll said. “You name it, he was up there. I think he’s been one of the best players in the league this year. He’s our leadoff hitter and he’s been a table-setter for us. Kyle has a lot of RBI and Matt’s (Burnham) right behind him. We led the league in home runs. It starts with Kurtis.”
Matt Burnham went 6-0 with a 0.58 ERA in 24 innings pitched to propel the pitching staff. Sean Buckland leads the staff in strikeouts with 33 in his 32 1/3 innings of work and Mario Padovani went 2-2 with a 1.12 ERA in 13 appearances.
“It’s probably our most veteran group we’ve had,” Carroll said of his pitching staff. “We know how to pitch in the league. Matt led us this year. He’s in the running for top pitcher in the league. Sean’s pitched well for us, he’s been with us for a few years, same with Mario. Danny Duval’s a jack of all trades. Ed Deren has been very solid for us this year. We’ve really relied on five arms for the most part and they’ve all been very good.”
North Shore opens its best-of-three series Tuesday night (7) against No. 7 Swampscott at Swampscott Middle School.
The Swampscott Sox waited until the final weekend of the regular season to seal their postseason bid. Manger Joe Caponigro and his team have now reached the NSBL playoffs for 34 consecutive seasons.
Swampscott’s offense was led by a .409 average and 16 RBI from Brian Maynard. Lou Olivieri batted .351 with eight RBI. Clemente Parra compiled a .321 average with four home runs and 15 RBI, and two-time reigning NSBL MVP Elvis Rodriguez jumped back into the mix toward the end of the season.
On the mound, Erik Fields went 3-3 with a 3.50 ERA in 32 innings pitched. JP Reiling went 2-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 28 innings of work and Juan Diaz leads the staff in strikeouts with 36.
Other playoff series are No. 3 Beverly against No. 6 Rowley and No. 4 Kingston against No. 5 North Shore Storm.